March 24, 2023 By Bill Parry
The 31st Avenue Open Street in Astoria will reopen for its fourth season on Earth Day, April 22, including themed activities, performances and more.
The 31st Avenue Open Street operates between noon and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the spring, summer and fall and is one of the only programs that are 100% volunteer-run by local residents in partnership with the city Department of Transportation.
Traffic and parking are closed along the stretch of 31st Avenue from 31st Street to 35th Street and open to cycling, walking, and community-centered programming. Programmers, organizations, or community members who are interested in hosting weekend events and activities on the Open Street are invited to submit their ideas here.
The 31st Avenue Open Street Collective worked over the winter preparing for the new season and recently announced a call for local artists to beautify the newly installed bike corral on 34th Street. The Collective will reveal the winning design soon from the wide range of submissions received.
Additionally, a fundraiser held for the Astoria Food Pantry, which receives over $2,000 a month from the Collective’s vendor fairs, passed the set goal of $8,000, helping the organization secure rent for two months.
This year, the Collective welcomes back The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) as a continued partner in helping to set up and break down the Open Street each weekend and assist in beautification and litter removal, as well as programs such as The Connected Chef’s Urban Farm Stand and the QNS Collaborative’s monthly Maker Markets.
“Over the past few years, we have seen 31st Avenue transform as a result of the Open Street program, into a vibrant and bustling gathering place for the community on the weekends,” said John Surico, a member of the Collective and a longtime Astoria resident. “As a third-year volunteer, it brings me a lot of joy to see our street used as a place for kids to learn to ride bikes, for dog owners to meet up, or for up-and-coming performers to find an audience. The program brings our neighbors together and I’m thrilled about what we have in store this year.”
During the 2022 season, the 31st Avenue Open Street hosted over 160 activations, including 14 performances, over 40 vendor fairs and markets, 15 classes and workshops and over 60 community meetups. In addition, the Collective organized seven special holiday events for the community, including Trick-or-Streets on Halloween, and a free community feast for Thanksgiving. A petition to bring back the Open Street this year garnered over 1,600 signatures.
This season, the Collective hopes to expand the types of programming offered to better meet the needs and interests of its diverse local community.
“It’s hard to imagine that we started the Open Street just three years ago, with some metal barriers and a handful of tables and chairs at the height of the pandemic,” said Erin Dennis, a member of the Collective and Astoria resident for nearly a decade. “Thanks to the support of DOT, our community partners, and local businesses on the block, we’ve been able to grow the program and turn it into a real community hub that people look forward to each weekend. I’m excited to keep expanding the types of activities we can offer, and to help some new programmers and organizations get involved this year.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Open Street can fill out a volunteer interest form. A new volunteer social will also be held on Sunday, April 2 and those interested can RSVP here.
The volunteer social will take place at a local watering hole in Astoria and serve as a chance for new volunteers to meet members of the Collective and hear more about what they do and opportunities to help.